About 1,000 people arrive in Texas every day. The state’s population is expected to double by 2050 to more than 50 million people, according to the Associated Press. With drought a continual threat, water is a big worry in the Lone Star State. “The state is growing so fast that we’re constantly playing catch-up when it comes to building resilient water supplies,” Robert Mace, executive director of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, told AP. “The question is: When the bad times come will there be enough water for everybody?”
When the first white settlers arrived in California’s remote eastern Owens Valley, the name given to its indigenous tribes was Paiute, or “land of flowing water” in the local language. But for more than a century, the water in the valley has flowed in just one direction: toward Los Angeles, nearly 300 miles (480 km) away. In the early 1900s, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) quietly bought up broad swathes of ranchland and its associated water rights in the once-lush valley, fringed by snow-capped peaks.
Marin County water district officials expressed encouragement after an early agreement was reached that seeks to end longstanding conflicts of a major regional water supply 100 miles to the north. The agreement centers around the relicensing of the Potter Valley Project hydropower plant in Mendocino County, which holds a supply of water that affects fish, farmers and communities stretching from Marin to Humboldt counties. Sonoma Water, one of the main suppliers to Marin’s two water districts, draws water supplied by the power plant’s reservoirs.
Once again, a big thirsty metropolis is looking at buying Central Valley farmland with an eye toward boosting its water supplies. And once again, neighboring farmers are nervous about it. Silicon Valley’s main water agency, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, confirmed Wednesday that it’s considering buying a 5,200-acre Merced County ranch. The district would build a groundwater storage bank beneath the ranch as a buffer during drought conditions.
Governor Newsom recently called for a state portfolio of actions to manage water under rapidly changing climate and other conditions. This post reviews the state of water portfolio planning in California today. In this complex changing world, major problems are rarely solved with a single solution or a single problem-solver. Portfolio-based planning and management tries to do many things in an organized and coordinated way, often wit
The battle over Shasta Dam is escalating. This week, California’s attorney general and several fishing and conservation groups filed separate lawsuits to stop a controversial project to elevate the dam and expand the state’s largest reservoir, near Redding. “This project is unlawful,” wrote Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement announcing the state’s lawsuit. “
As California faces more frequent and severe droughts, agriculture, which relies on irrigation from surface water and groundwater, could become expensive and unsustainable. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, looked at using a “free” resource rain water stored in the soil and found that optimizing its use could go a long way to help meet demand for five California perennial crops. Their findings appear in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
Two million years ago, as glaciers carved much of North America, torrential rains flooded what is now the Western United States, forming vast lakes across the region. The only remnants of that era are millions of saline ponds, some so small that over a hundred can be concentrated into a square kilometer. These lakes are now quickly shrinking. With less runoff from snowpack, and more water being diverted for agriculture, the lakes’ levels are rapidly decreasing, becoming even higher in salt content.
At first blush, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest action on water seems fanciful and naive. But it has logic and conceivably could work. Newsom wants to reexamine practically everything the state has been working on meaning what former Gov. Jerry Brown was doing and piece together a grand plan for California’s future that can draw the support of longtime water warriors.
In court, the California Environmental Quality Act is a familiar obstacle to projects large and small — housing developments, solar projects, even bike lanes. It’s also lately become a weapon in the state’s major water conflicts. Last week, the Imperial Irrigation District filed a CEQA lawsuit trying to block a deal among seven states that could lead to further rations of the Colorado River in the near future.